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Work factors as predictors of intense or disabling low back pain; a prospective study of nurses’ aides
  1. W Eriksen1,
  2. D Bruusgaard1,
  3. S Knardahl2
  1. 1Department of General Practice and Community Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2National Institute of Occupational Health, Oslo, Norway; Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr W Eriksen.
 Department of General Practice and Community Medicine, University of Oslo, PO Box 1130 Blindern, 0318 Oslo. Norway; w.b.eriksensamfunnsmed.uio.no

Abstract

Aims: To identify the work factors that predict intense low back pain (LBP) and LBP related sick leaves in nurses’ aides.

Methods: The sample comprised 4266 randomly selected Norwegian nurses’ aides, not bothered or only a little bothered by LBP during the previous three months, and not on sick leave when completing a mailed questionnaire in 1999. Of these, 3808 (89.3%) completed a second questionnaire 3 months later and 3651 (85.6%) completed a third questionnaire 15 months later. Intensity of low back symptoms and certified sick leaves attributed to LBP during the observation period were assessed by self reports at the follow ups.

Results: After adjustments for LBP during the three months prior to baseline, baseline health complaints, demographic and familial factors, and a series of physical, psychological, and social work factors, logistic regression analyses revealed the following associations: intense low back symptoms were predicted by frequent positioning of patients in bed, perceived lack of support from immediate superior, and perceived lack of pleasant and relaxing culture in the work unit. LBP related sick leaves were predicted by frequent handling of heavy objects, medium level of work demands, perceived lack of supportive and encouraging culture in the work unit, working night shifts, and working in a nursing home. Long term LBP related sick leaves were associated with changes of work or work tasks during the observation period that resulted in a perceived reduction of support and encouragement at work.

Conclusions: Not only frequent mechanical exposures, but also organisational, psychological, and social work factors, such as night shift work, perceived lack of support from superior, and perceived lack of a pleasant and relaxing or supporting and encouraging culture in the work unit, are associated with an increased risk of intense low back symptoms and LBP related sick leaves in nurses’ aides.

  • low back pain
  • nurses aides
  • occupational health
  • work

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